Archive for November, 2010

Chuy’s parade 2010

This is a balloon waiting to navigate low-hanging street fixtures, where San Jacinto and Eleventh Street intersect. Other balloons, along with many live participants in Chuy’s parade today may be viewed in still photographs and brief videos.

We enjoyed seeing dancers, balloons, and floats, and hearing music from such Austin favorites as Los Texas Wranglers, the Biscuit Brothers, pipers, the Travis and Anderson high school bands, and many more. Among notables participating were Rhoda Mae Kerr, our fire chief, and radio and TV personality Fred Cantu.

This parade is to benefit Operation Blue Santa, and anyone who missed today’s jolly event will find that there are still plenty of ways to be helpful in the time that remains: dropping off toys, volunteering personal assistance, or just plain donating money.

Rudolph’s is open and has the trees

This is one of the hand-painted signs. Today was like old-home week at Rudolph’s, with lots of kissing and hugging. One customer introduced her father to all and said she’s been buying her trees at Rudolph’s for fifteen years. This is the tree-stand that set up near Fox Service while the drugstore and condos were being built adjacent to the old Maria’s Taco Xpress location, at the corner of South Lamar and Bluebonnet. This year, the canopy appears to be new, with eye-catching bright red-and-white stripes. All the shade cloth seems to be new, as well. The trees are standing in water and are extremely fresh. Ask for the bottom of the trunk to be cut off so that the tree may be stood in water and begin taking it up anew before pitch seals the trunk again. The gourds and pumpkins are officially retired now, and the homeplace is scented with the fresh aura of the new holiday season, thanks to Rudolph’s.

Our other stop this morning was the Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress, where we found yet another of those great Austin souvenirs that make fine presents. It’s the 2011 Music & Mutts calendar benefiting Blue Dog Rescue.

South Congress is crazy busy today, with lines at Guero’s and other establishments.

Aggies stepping lively

They weren’t the only ones. The tasty turkey, courtesy of Wheatsville, and all accompaniments were prepared and consumed yesterday so that today would be free for the A&M parade on Congress. We marched up and down for about three miles’ worth of distance and were very happy to have done so.

I was trying to use the FlipCam (version 1.0) and the plastic Concord 1500 held together with an elastic band simultaneously. The still photographs were better than the videos, but some of the music can be heard on the latter.

The parade stepped off right on time at 1 pm, just as the chimes in the old fire tower were sounding. The cold front blew through as the Tymco sweeper followed the mules and horses that drew up the rear guard of the procession.

I love a parade! A military band with all the brass cannot be surpassed, but that doesn’t mean that anyone who loves fresh air and happiness should miss Chuy’s parade on Saturday. I can hardly wait.

P.S. Find the game on KVET 98.1-FM radio or 1300-AM if you’re interested in why the band and Corps are in town.

Airport service with a smile

We’re not talking TSA, ABIA, or any other initials. We’re talking Airport Boulevard when the airport was Mueller, not Bergstrom.

Gene Johnson’s garage is still a true service station. The ladies don’t need to leave their vehicles. Genial Gene’s people will fill ‘er up, change the oil, check tire pressure, and more. The service bays are always busy. I never do remember to ask whether it’s possible for a civilian to acquire one of those tee-shirts worn by most of the staff, the ones with crossed socket wrenches and the motto about service with a smile, but I always forget. Gene Johnson’s business, along with many others, can be found in the Black Registry published by Tommy Wyatt of The Villager newspaper.

We saw that the Tamale House was very busy today, as were all the businesses along this part of Airport. Pedestrians were many, contrary to all the idle talk floating around these days about the need to improve Airport ouf of all recognition.

I enjoy Airport Boulevard just the way it is, and the Tamale House and Gene Johnson’s are only two of the many, many reasons.

North Village library branch: light on books

The North Village branch still feels brand-new, as though it opened only yesterday. It is on Steck, but seems very quiet and peaceful despite all that, so that any performance on the little outdoor stage depicted in the accompanying collage probably will not be drowned out by passing traffic.

Areas seem to be better arranged than they are at the even newer Twin Oaks branch, so that there’s no constant apologizing for stumbling over or backing into other patrons, as there is at TO. The natural light everywhere indoors illuminates without glare. The acoustics are not noticeably reverberant and there seems to be ample damping down any possible echo effect.

The staff is very pleasant, and the ergonomics of the areas set aside for the library’s own desktop computers and for patrons’ carry-ins were excellent. Ample outlets are available at convenient heights for all. There’s a sort of wheelbarrow by the door, used as a magazine exchange.

Restrooms are for men, women, and “family.” More sinks would have been useful and a patrol, also, to pick up litter scattered around. This library has a good-sized children’s area and also seems to offer a selection of Korean movies on DVD.

Although the City bills North Village as a “library of the future,” a bit more of the past, in the form of more books, would be an improvement. Every branch of the Austin Public Library is different, and we try to visit them all. This is our first inspection of the newest version of North Village. It’s a fine building and conveys an air of conviviality and spaciousness. Three bus lines serve this location.

Traviata for everyone

La Traviata is one of the world’s best-loved operas for a reason, and the current Austin Lyric Opera production shows why.

Although some recommend Carmen, Tosca, Elixir of Love, Madama Butterfly or even La Boheme, I always recommend La Traviata as the first opera for those who have never been to one. Even the most threadbare and meager performance of this opera will always give pleasure because it has everything: a compelling story and music that cannot be forgotten, along with momentum that only seems to grow as the audience is carried along.

Last night brought us a beautiful performance. We were especially lucky in our Alfredo, who can really sing and who actually has a youthful appearance. Violetta and Giorgio acquitted themselves very well. There’s nothing quite like those times when the singers are out there unaccompanied by musical instruments; it’s like seeing someone walk on a high wire without a balance pole or net.

The two party scenes were the best ever, with dancers truly waltzing in the initial scenes. It could have been my imagination, but I thought I spotted a party-goer intended to be George Sand. At Flora’s party, the choreography was wonderful as was every aspect of the divertissement. I loved the use of ribbons on the tambourines and streaming from the ballerina’s fillet headdress as she danced, and great advantage was taken of the varied linings of the capes worn by those in matador costume. Every part of the stage was used to best advantage.

The orchestra and chorus sound better and better. Although I thought that the tempo for the overture was a bit on the slow side, immediately preceding that was a very snappy rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, with great use of snare rolls and clashing cymbal. There’s nothing like a fine orchestra as accompaniment when you sing this anthem.

At the end, there was scarcely a dry eye in the house. There were sniffles and even sobs to be heard, and many were the handkerchiefs to be seen. The curtain call elicited sustained and sincere applause.

Austin can be very proud of this very fine theatrical and musical production, one that should not be missed by anyone who loves the stage or vocal performance.

Last night the house seemed to be full, despite the competing allure of football (scores were checked by phone out on the terrace during intermissions). Tickets for the remaining performances remain available. Those performances are: Wednesday, November 10, at 7:30 pm; Friday, November 12 at 7:30 pm; and Sunday, November 14, at 3:00 pm.

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